Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Senate committee examines rising health care costs

Health care costs continue to rise, but have done so at a slower annual rate in recent years.
Health care costs continue to rise, but have done so at a slower annual rate in recent years. The Sacramento Bee file

Lawmakers returned from their holiday break a month ago, but the Legislature is still slowly creaking into life.

The Senate Health Committee will hold one of the first hearings of the new session, 1:30 p.m. in Room 4203 of the Capitol, to examine the drivers of health care costs and how to keep them more affordable. The committee will hear from representatives of the biomedical industry, health care providers and payers, as well as from policy experts who will offer a perspective on potential remedies to rising rates.

One of the issues the informational hearing may address is the price of pharmaceuticals. An expensive new drug to treat Hepatitis C, for example, will cost California about $300 million over the next two years.

VIDEO: Regardless of what it does, the Legislature's newfound popularity may be short-lived, Dan Walters says.

I’M BRINGING VACCINES BACK: A measles outbreak that began at Disneyland has reignited the debate over childhood vaccines, reaching even the 2016 presidential race. Now it provides California’s latest piece of ripped-from-the-headlines legislation: Sens. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, and Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, will announce a bill changing California’s immunization requirements to ensure more kids get vaccinated, 11 a.m. in Room 3191 of the Capitol. Allen represents the Westside of Los Angeles, where falling vaccination rates at elite schools have presented major problems.

FOLLOW THE RULES: Five members of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors and Santi J. Rogers, director of the state Department of Developmental Services, are required to appear before the Senate Rules Committee for confirmation, 1:30 p.m. in Room 113 of the Capitol.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, who turns 38 today.

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.